This past weekend, University of Wisconsin hosted its annual Relay for Life event at the Shell, bringing more than a thousand people together to honor those affected by cancer.
Relay for Life is a fundraising event sponsored by the American Cancer Society. The UW chapter of Colleges Against Cancer put on the event, and this year’s theme was Relay Around the World to honor the 26 different countries which host the event.
Participants put together a team and are meant to walk and join in activities for 24 hours straight. There are special guests, live performances and survivors who share their stories.
This year, UW football coach Paul Chryst was the honored speaker at the Opening Ceremony of the event.
Following the Opening Ceremony is the survivor’s lap, where upbeat music is played and cancer survivors walk the first lap around the track as all the participants cheer them on.
For many students, Relay for Life is a way to remember and honor those who’s lives have been affected by cancer.
“A lot of my family members have cancer, and my grandma has gone through chemotherapy three times now, so she has been dealing with [cancer] for three years now,” Lizzi Schieldt, Relay for Life participant, said.“Relay for Life is just a really good event to participate in.”
The night included a Luminaria Ceremony where participants could purchase small bags and decorate them in memory of their loved ones. Later on as the ceremony began, the bags lined the track and candles were lit inside them as the lights were turned down. Participants walked around the track honoring their loved ones who have passed away from cancer.
“I think the Luminaria Ceremony is really something special,” Casey Nelson, a Relay for Life participant, said. “I feel like it is really important to remember lost ones and continue the fight.”
The event ended with its closing ceremony at 6 a.m., encouraging participants to continue the fight. Other notable activities throughout the night included ice skating, raffles, lip sync battles, yoga and magicians, amongst other things.
In a decrease from recent years, a total of 145 teams were signed up for the event, with 1,229 participants overall, according to the Relay for Life website.
Together, participants raised $103,924.56, a sum also less than in the past. All of the money raised at Relay for Life goes toward research at the American Cancer Society and a multitude of organizations meant to help cancer patients, including Hope Lodge, Road to Recovery, Look Good… Feel Better and Reach to Recovery, according to the Relay for Life website.
“I think this is a really good thing to do, and I hope this event continues to grow as much as it has been because all of the donations really help people who have been affected by cancer,” Schieldt said.